It is common knowledge that illegal trade is detrimental to the State as it poses a threat to the national economy. Moreover, illegal trade channels tax revenues away from State coffers, apart from giving rise to corruption, especially among the authorities and State service personnel. Corruption within government bodies and administrative organs can poison every sector — from the rule of law and judiciary to public security and economy.
A market flooded with illegal goods creates a difficult environment for the sustainability of domestic small and medium enterprises, while hampering the nation’s industrial development. The worst is that corruption and an unfavourable economic environment scare away foreign direct investment.
In many cases, the involvement of transnational organized crime has be seen in the border trade between the country and its neighbors. Transnational organized crimes include illicit drug trafficking, gunrunning, sex trafficking, poaching and illegal wildlife and parts trade, trafficking of hazardous agents, and smuggling of precious stones, metals, and other natural resources. One of the illegal trades that is hitting the nation hard is timber smuggling and the illegal export of logs. According to some news sources, Myanmar lost 19 per cent of its forests worth millions of US dollars to illegal logging and trade. During the ten-year period between 2005 and 2014, Myanmar officially exported only 20 per cent of its jade, while the rest, or 80 per cent, reached international markets through illegal routes.
Illegal trade brings substandard goods, fake or unregistered medicines, and unsafe foodstuff into the country through various means and routes. Additionally, the illegal entry of food into the domestic market is a curse for local SMEs and farmers.
Unfortunately, 97 per cent of the contraband goods come from the east, as many illegal traders have connections in Chiwna and Thailand. Failure to curb illegal trade will widen the country’s trade deficit and worsen financial woes.
Well aware of the adverse effects of such illicit business, the Office of the President of Myanmar established the 40-member Steering Committee to Crack Down on Illegal Trade on 25 June, 2019, and set 13 tasks for it. Special task forces of nine regions and states that share a common border with neighbouring countries have seized contrabands, with a street value of K11.828 billion, till June this year.
The robust growth of the national economy calls for a healthy legal trade and the elimination of illegal trade in its entirety. So, we hope that every person concerned remains free from corruption in the fight against illegal trade, till it is eradicated.